New York Democrat announces early exit from House, citing GOP dysfunction

Representative Brian Higgins, Democrat of New York, said Sunday that he will leave Congress in February.

Mr. Higgins, a Buffalo native who spent 19 years in the House, said he would retire before the end of his term after a year in which “institutional norms were compromised.”

“I think, unfortunately, this is the beginning of a bad trend, not the end of it,” he said.

Mr Higgins, 64, said the chamber was engulfed in chaos and dysfunction. He blames the growing influence of Republicans who seek public attention and viral moments through aggressive speeches and controversial legislative amendments.

“It’s all the individuals who weaponized the law-making process,” he said. “And here I think that the current leadership of the House has experienced an unfortunate failure. They are currently a child of dysfunction, as evidenced by their own inability to identify what they want and to develop a strategy to achieve what they want.”

Under New York law, Governor Kathy Hochul must call a special election next year to find Mr. Higgins’ successor.

In his tenth term in Congress, Mr. Higgins is a centrist member of the Ways and Means and Budget Committees. He plans to remain in office until the first week of February. His resignation will open up a seat representing New York’s 26th Congressional District, a heavily Democratic region including Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

Dozens of current members of the Senate and House have announced their decisions not to seek re-election, and a growing number have said their departure will be retirement from public office.

Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, announced last week that he would not seek another term.

Mr. Higgins said he recently ran for president of Buffalo State University. After his intentions to leave Washington became more widely known in his district, more opportunities began to materialize, as did plans to find his replacement.

“I feel fortunate to have some choices here,” he said.

In a social media post praising Mr Higgins following his announcement, Governor Hochul proposed that he might have accepted the position of becoming president Shea’s Performing Arts Center Buffalo. But he said in an interview that no decision has been made.

Other tributes quickly began pouring in from officials in the state.

“During his storied career, he has been an integral part of the transformation of our region,” state Sen. Sean M. Ryan said in a statement.

State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy said Mr. Higgins changed “the way the nation sees Buffalo,” revitalizing the city’s waterfront and securing federal investment in infrastructure.

Two state lawmakers, both Democrats from Western New York, are considered possible candidates to seek Mr. Higgins’ House seat.

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